ycp81
Topic Author
Posts: 663
Joined: Fri Jun 30, 2006 4:07 pm

Seoul Searching on the LCC and Premium A330 Flatbeds (FD, XJ and SQ JCL)

Sun Jan 28, 2018 12:21 pm

It is a new year and a year of new destinations to explore. Starting this year of travels was a short trip to Seoul for the cold winter and my virgin ski experience. Flights were on a mix of Thai AirAsia group and SQ, and it would also be my first experience of the AirAsia X Premium Flatbed product and see how it compares to the full-service airlines. The flight up to Seoul required a transit in Don Muang, with the SIN-DMK sector on FD, and DMK-ICN on XJ. Both are part of the AirAsia group and offers through check-in and luggage transfer.

The AirAsia group uses Changi's new Terminal 4 since November last year, which was where I departed from tonight. Terminal 4 was new, but expectedly with very few airlines using the terminal at the moment, there was hardly any passengers. So lets start with a review of the new Terminal 4.

Very bright check-in hall.

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Majority of flights were from the AirAsia group. Definitely not a busy terminal currently. Not sure if Changi can attract more airlines operating narrow-bodies to this terminal as with the 17 narrowbody gates, they seemed to be very under-utilised.

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AirAsia's self check-in counters at Row 4.

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Boarding passes for both sectors were issed by the machine. Note the many codes on the boarding passes? Will explain the reason later on.

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After boarding passes were printed, baggage were brought to the self-bagdrop counter. As I was flying on Premium Flatbed in the connecting sector and eligible for priority handling, a "Xpress" tag could be obtained from the staffing manning the premium counter, though it did not really work as my bag was not among the first on the baggage delivery belt in Incheon.

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A baggage receipt was also printed.

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Unlike the other terminals which has screening done at the gate, T4 has centralised screening just after immigration.

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After security, you would be required to walk through the duty-free shops, which were mostly very empty due to the lack of passengers.

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Same sight in the departure hall, which was not busy as well.

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The eateries available at the Food Hall.

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FIDS

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There is a Peranakan Gallery, which is a heritage showcase of Peranakan culture, which is the theme of this terminal. Interestingly, the SQ kebaya uniforms were also showcased!

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More shops screaming for customers.

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The fascade of a couple of the shophouses are actually animated screens. One of the highlights of the T4 attractions other than the quirky seats and benches.

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It was a pretty long walk to gate G1 where the flight would be departing from. Passing the many empty narrowbody gates.

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I liked the open concept design for the waiting lounge with a pretty comfortable waiting area.

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17 January 2018
Thai AirAsia
FD 352
Singapore (SIN) - Bangkok Don Muang (DMK)
A320
HS-ABY
Economy Class
Flight Time: 2H00M



Gate G1

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A320 operating the flight to Bangkok.

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With the short turnaround time, boarding commenced shortly after the passengers from the arriving flight has disembarked. Passengers seated in the Hot seats (seats with red headrests) were allowed to board first. Being on a Premium Flatbed ticket, we were allowed free seat selection, including Hot seats, on this sector, and chose the emergency exit row for the legroom.

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The seats fitted on this aircraft are slimline seats, different from the seats on my previous AirAsia flights. According to the web, this aircraft was initially bound for Air Berlin, but was bought over by AirAsia instead. Legroom, expectedly, was very good at the emex row.

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Boarding in progress. Flight was about 3/4 full, with most of the red-coloured headrested Hot seats remaining unoccupied.

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Stuff in the seat pocket which included the English and Thai versions of the inflight magazine, BOB menu and duty-free shopping guide.

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View out the window. Note the very empty gates. Even SilkAir aircraft were using the gates as remote stands.

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All ready to go.

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Safety demo was performed manually and we pushed back for the short taxi to the runway.

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Departure from Rwy02C bound for Bangkok.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PiCRVKZhVEI


Service commenced shortly after departure, with the distribution of pre-booked meals.

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Included with the Premium Flatbed fare was a free meal and drink on each sector. However, due to some glitch in AirAsia's website/mobile app, we were "allowed" to select 2 meals for free on this sector. Hence I pre-ordered the Japanese meal of Salt and Chilli salmon (which came with miso soup and a jelly dessert), and a Mango Sticky rice dessert, as well as 2 drinks. Ended up with a feast!

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Hot miso soup in a cup, great for warming the stomach.

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The salmon was good but a bit spicy.

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Ending with the strawberry jelly dessert and mango sticky rice. The mango sticky rice was much better than the jelly.

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After the meal was cleared, I visited the lavatory. It was clean and stocked with the basic amenities.

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View of the cabin.

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Lights were dimmed for the rest of the flight for passengers to rest. Just lazed at the seat till descend into Bangkok.

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Approach and landing in Bangkok Don Muang Rwy21R. Arrived right on schedule.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwJEnG6sRkI


A short taxi later and we parked at the remote stand.

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Comfortable seat with great legroom and decent recline on the 2hrs flight.

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Disembarking. One of the cabin crew was at the tarmac thanking passengers.

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It was a pleasant and comfortable short sector on Thai AirAsia.
My past and future travels - http://www.ba97.com/ba97/calendar/report.asp?handle=ycp81
 
ycp81
Topic Author
Posts: 663
Joined: Fri Jun 30, 2006 4:07 pm

Re: Seoul Searching on the LCC and Premium A330 Flatbeds (FD, XJ and SQ JCL)

Sun Jan 28, 2018 12:23 pm

Another look at the A320 from the tarmac before boarding the transfer bus to the terminal.

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After clearing transfer security at the arrivals and heading up to the departure level, we needed to kill more than 2hrs at Don Muang. Using our priority passes, we headed to the Coral Executive Lounge.

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The lounge, which is the newer of 2 lounges in Don Muang, is tastefully furnished with ample seating and lounging areas.

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There is a basic but decent buffet selection.

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Grabbed a variety of nibbles to snack on.

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My past and future travels - http://www.ba97.com/ba97/calendar/report.asp?handle=ycp81
 
ycp81
Topic Author
Posts: 663
Joined: Fri Jun 30, 2006 4:07 pm

Re: Seoul Searching on the LCC and Premium A330 Flatbeds (FD, XJ and SQ JCL)

Mon Jan 29, 2018 4:36 pm

Left the lounge and proceeded to the gate about 30min prior to departure. On the FIDS, there were only a few flight departures at this time of the night.

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Our aircraft was still being serviced.

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Departure Gate 15

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18 January 2018
Thai AirAsia X
XJ 700
Bangkok Don Muang (DMK) - Seoul Incheon (ICN)
A330-300
HS-XTC
Business Class (Premium Flatbed)
Flight Time: 4H50M



The gate was fully packed. According to the gate agent, the boarding would be slightly delayed due to aircraft servicing.

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Boarding commenced by zones, and Zone 1 passengers, including Premium Flatbed pax, were invited to board. Boarding zones were enforced strictly.

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Welcomed and directed by the crew to our seats at the first row of the aircraft. I would be seated at 1K on this sector (which coincidentally our famous AV Vlogger Sam Chui also sat on in this exact aircraft and reviewed in his vlog recently, also on a DMK-ICN flight! [url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtyYFjF1Ypo"]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtyYFjF1Ypo[/url]). Premium flatbed is AirAsia's version of Business Class and only offered on its A330 aircraft. The seats are angled lie-flats, similar to those found on a number of full-service airlines (exact same seats as on Garuda A330s' Business Class). Full frills included in the fare includes 40kg check-in luggage, a complimentary meal, priority boarding and baggage delivery. On each seat was already placed a plush pillow. There are only 12 Premium Flatbed seats, configured two rows of 2-2-2, on each A330 aircraft.

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Took a peek into Economy Class. The 3-3-3 configuration on AirAsia X's A330 does indeed looked very cramped! I am in no hurry to fly in one of these seats on a full flight.

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Splendid legroom at Row 1.

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Seat controls, which included some pre-set positions.

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Adjustable reading light

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Power outlets available for each seat.

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A big, red pillow for your comfort.

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Inflight magazine, BOB menu, safety card and a 'warning' card.

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NokScoot B772 at the gate beside, also bound for a regional destination.

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A bottle of water was offered to each of us in the front cabin.

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To my surprise, a proper hot towel was also offered by the crew! The very professional crew also confirmed if we want our meals served after takeoff or before arrival, all while kneeling down ala SQ-style to ensure eye-contact (learnt later that the crew serving us to fly for Qatar. No wonder the very professional service!). We chose to have the meals prior to arrival.

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Quick visit to the lavatory prior to pushback. It only had the basic amenities.

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Doors closed, safety demo performed manually, and we pushed back for the taxi to the runway. Even though we pushed back late, the arrival would still be on schedule due to the announced short flight time of 5hrs.

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Took off from Rwy21L bound for Seoul Incheon.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARihjyuQCYA

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Shortly after takeoff, the crew came round to distribute plush, red duvets to all of us in the front cabin. Time to recline the seat to bed-mode and grab some sleep!

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Seats in flat-bed mode. The beds were comfortable enough that I managed 3hrs of decent sleep.

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When I woke up, the sun has already risen. It was about 1.5hrs prior to landing.

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Prior to the flight, I received an email notifying that my pre-booked meal selection was now not available for the month and I would need to re-select. Having done that, a glitch in the booking system did not erase the earlier selections and instead, add on my new selections to my earlier selections and replacing the old selections with a current choices. I ended up with 4 meals but requested only to have 2 of them, the Vegan Tofu with Pilaf rice and Japanese chicken teriyaki with rice. Both meals were average, but mainly due to the fact I am not in the appetite for savoury stuff so early in the morning. The meals came with a coffee.

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Vegan Tofu with Rice Pilaf
A healthy and flavourful vegetarian meal that pairs garnished pilaf rice with spiced tofu, tomato chutney and blanched cauliflower. Perfect palate for everyone.

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Japanese Chicken Teriyaki with Rice
Juicy roasted chicken in sweet and savory teriyaki sauce, served with Japanese rice.

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Due to a similar glitch, my friend also had 4 meals in the booking selection, but only had the Filipino-styled Grilled chicken with rice and Chicken Lasagne. The grilled chicken dish was tasty but Chicken lasagne was a bit too heavy for breakfast.

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Tasty Grilled Chicken with Baked Jasmine Rice
Philippine's favourite cuisine marries chicken, vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaves and peppercorn for an unforgettable gastronomic experience.

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Chicken Lasagne
Savour this classic, heart-warming Chicken Lasagna. Layers of juicy chicken tomato sauce, cream sauce, pasta and shredded cheese are baked to perfection, with vegetables completing this gratifying meal.

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Another view of the flatbed without the duvet. In lie-flat mode, the armrest at one side moves down to flush with the bed for more width.

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Across the aisle.

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Prior to descent, crew came around to collect all the pillows and duvets. We started the descend into the gloomy skies.

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Approaching Incheon, it seemed to be a cold and gloomy winter morning.

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Landing on Rwy33R right on schedule.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZ-dXB1cQoA


Taxied pass the brand nw Terminal 2, which was on its first day of operations. The main carrier at the new terminal is Korean Air, along with a handful of other Skyteam airlines.

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Turning into the Concourse terminal.

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Parked at the gate.

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View of the comfortable Premium Flatbed seats before disembarking.

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Some shots of the A330 during disembarking.

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Another view of the XJ A330 while heading to the shuttle to the main terminal.

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Immigration was smooth and bags were out fast, though not the earlier ones despite priority-tagged.

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The flight on Thai AirAsia X was very comfortable indeed. From a price point of view, it was very value for money when bough at promotional fares, especially with the ability to catch a decent sleep on the mid-haul. The included frills, such as meals, hot towels, pillow and duvet, coupled with the good service, certainly enhanced the comfort level. To have a good rest at decent prices, the AirAsia X group is certainly the way to fly if good deals are available.
My past and future travels - http://www.ba97.com/ba97/calendar/report.asp?handle=ycp81
 
infinit
Posts: 1052
Joined: Thu Jul 31, 2008 1:12 am

Re: Seoul Searching on the LCC and Premium A330 Flatbeds (FD, XJ and SQ JCL)

Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:39 am

Thanks for the report so far. AirAsia's premium product looks great actually!
Especially the food which Scoot in comparison is terrible at.
Changi T4 looks good too and I look forward to checking it out sometime later this year.
A bit odd though that the SQ female crew kebayas are in the "Peranakan Gallery".. The SQ kebayas are of Malay style.
Peranakan Kebayas are a different design usually have a semi-translucent top that is often two-piece. Not that it matters much though!
 
ycp81
Topic Author
Posts: 663
Joined: Fri Jun 30, 2006 4:07 pm

Re: Seoul Searching on the LCC and Premium A330 Flatbeds (FD, XJ and SQ JCL)

Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:30 pm

We took the Airport Limousine to Myeongdong, which was about an hour's ride. Stayed at Sejong Hotel on this trip. The hotel, though one of the grand old dames in Seoul, was well kept and very comfortable. Rooms were huge and the location was unbeatable. View from the room was towards Namsan hill.

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My first meal of the trip is some comforting warm Korean porridge at Migabon. Not being a fan of porridges, I actually found the ones served here rather tasty as they were not of the usual types found in Singapore. The bulgogi porridge, one of the more popular choices, was very flavourful.

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Myeongdong in the evening.

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Street food in Myeongdong.

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Budae Jjigae (Army Stew) at Nolboo for dinner. It was pretty enjoyable to eat this spicy and soupy dish on a cold wintery evening.

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The next morning, we went on a trip to Nami Island. Having been to the island in autumn many years back, the winter scenery was vastly different.

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Frozen ponds and bare trees summarises the winter scenery on Nami Island.

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Fireplaces were set up around the island.

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One of the popular Korean drama serial spots.

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What is the Merlion doing on Nami Island?

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Partly frozen lake.

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Ice and snow sculptures.

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For lunch back on the mainland, we chanced upon this small homely restaurant which only serves a single set menu. The spread was pretty delicious!

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In the afternoon, we went for a skiiing session at Vivaldi Ski Resort, the most visited Ski Resort in South Korea. Lets just say I am definitely not ready for PyeongChang Winter Olympics haha.

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After a tiring afternoon, it was time to replenish the energy with some Korean Fried Chicken. We tried the best rated fried chicken at KyoChon, at their Dongdaemun branch. Ordered some nachos and chicken chips, a salad and of course the famous Korean fried chicken in both soya and spicy flavours. Finger-licking good!

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Breakfast the next day was at another popular porridge joint at Congee House in Myeongdong. Tried their kimchi octopus porridge and dumplings. Both are pretty tasty.

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Explored Garosu-Gil in Gangnam in the afternoon. It is becoming the hippiest area in Seoul, lined with cafes and designer stores.

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Afternoon tea at Beansbins Coffee with their popular waffle selection.

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Visiting Namdaemun Market

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And chancing upon a protest of sorts near City Hall.

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Chicken Galbi and fried rice with cheese at Yoogane for dinner. According to my friend, it was much tastier than the branch in Singapore.

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On the last day, we had a lunch at a local Korean eatery near Namdaemun.

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My past and future travels - http://www.ba97.com/ba97/calendar/report.asp?handle=ycp81
 
ycp81
Topic Author
Posts: 663
Joined: Fri Jun 30, 2006 4:07 pm

Re: Seoul Searching on the LCC and Premium A330 Flatbeds (FD, XJ and SQ JCL)

Sun Feb 11, 2018 1:59 pm

Took the airport limousine back to Incheon for the flight back to Singapore. Check-in was quick at the SQ counters with barely any queues.

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Through the efficient immigration and security, and we were in the bustling airside.

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As SQ flights were shifted from the Concourse Terminal to the Main Terminal after the opening of T2, SQ's Silver Kris Lounge was closed effective from 18th Jan. According to the ground staff, SQ would be re-opening another lounge at the Main Terminal building. In the meantime, SQ pax have to make do with the sub-par (in my opinion) Asiana Business Class Lounge.

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The ambience of the lounge was okay. Nothing fanciful but served its purpose.

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However, the catering spread was dismal, consisting only of 3 hot dishes, salad bar and finger food. This pales in comparison to even many of the Priority Pass Lounges out there, especially when this is the hub lounge of Asiana. Not sure about now, but Priority Pass holders used to be able to enter Asiana Lounges in Incheon as well.

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Fried rice with kinchi pork and congee. These were the only 3 hot items.

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A short visit to the underwhelming Asiana Lounge later, we proceeded to the gate. It was a pretty long walk throught the massive terminal to the gate.

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Sighted an ancient Korean "royal procession", which is a Korean cultural experience performance right smack in the middle of the passenger terminal!

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Gigantic Line bear in the terminal.

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It was a pretty long walk to the departure Gate 19 right at the end of the pier of the huge terminal, where boarding had already commenced.

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21 January 2018
Singapore Airlines
SQ 609
Seoul Incheon (ICN) - Singapore (SIN)
A330-300
9V-STC
Business Class
Flight Time: 6H15M



Was boarding immediately via the priority and headed down the jetbridge into the Business Class section.

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As expected, the seats were the angled-flat Regional Business Class seats, but were recently upholstered in dark brown leather. Pillow and blanket were already placed on the seat.

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Menus and headsets were placed in the magazine compartments.

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Sufficient legroom.

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Out the window.

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Crew came down with offers of newspapers and magazines.

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Hot towels distributed and welcome drinks offered. Being rather thirsty after the long walk, I had both the welcome cocktail Royal Sparkle (not pictured)and the champagne.

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Inflight magazines.

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The B777-9 and B787-10 were also featured in the fleet list.

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The routemap now also includes all the code-shares.

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There was a slight delay for pushback due to air traffic congestion. The new safety video featuring Singapore attractions was played after doors were closed.

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Flight map

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Pushed back.

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EK A380 taxied past.

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It was only quite a short taxi to the active runway.

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Departed from Rwy33L.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmBSqVNUrXA

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Climbing out of Incheon.

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Pretty comfortable headphones for the IFE.

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Had also requested for a bottle of water earlier.

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Quick visit to the lavatory, which was well-stocked with amenities as usual.

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View of the Business cabin. Today's load was about 2/3 full in Business.

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Above the clouds.

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Lets check out what is available on the menu for dinner on this flight.

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Menu for the SQ600 SIN-ICN sector.

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The very extensive beverages selection.

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Satay service commenced. I had my satay along with a Citrus Rum Cooler cocktail.

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Noticed something 'amissed' when the usual socks, slippers and eyeshades were not handed out. Requested for a pair of slippers from the crew and was informed that these items were temporarily only available on-request basis due to supplier issues and hence only limited numbers were stocked on each flight. It should revert back to normal after supplier issues are resolved.

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Watched a Korean action comedy on the IFE.

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Sunset

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Dinner service started about 1.5hrs into the flight. We were served by 4 crew in Business Class, and the service was excellent by all, especially the Korean Leading Stewardess whose service was exceptional

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I selected the Korean Hansik meal, which was introduced recently on Korea flights. The appetiser dish came with a medley of Korean starters, and all were pretty tasty. Had a Chianti to go along.

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For the main, it was an excellent tender braised beef shortribs with rice. It was very well-prepared and still slighly pink in the middle.A korean seaweed soup was also presented with the main dish.

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My friend Booked-the-cook the Herb Mustard crusted Lamb Loin. Starter was the Antipasto plate.

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Herb Mustard crusted Lamb Loin. It was excellently prepared as well.
Lamb loin with red wine sauce, lyonnais potato, French buttered string beans and parsley buttered Chateau carrots

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The dessert for the Hansik meal was a unique Banana pudding with brownie. It was a rather heavy dessert.

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While for the international selection, it was a delicious chocolate ice-cream.

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Meal service in progress.

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Cheese and fruits.

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Ending with a TWG Seven Tea (specially created for SQ's 70th anniversary) and pralines.

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Spent the rest of the flight watching the Kingsmen sequel.

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After 2 movies and a great meal, we were already approaching Singapore.

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Descending and landing on Rwy02L.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kF9yyqopq2k


Last view of my seat and disembarked.

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A look at our A330 after disembarkation before another long trek from Gate A20 to immigration.

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This flight definitely ranked as one of the best flights I have flown on SQ Business Class. Crew were super friendly and professional, and food was very well-prepared and tasty. Though the seats might not be the latest generation flat beds, it was totally acceptable for the mid-haul since I was lounging for the entire flight engrossed on the IFE. Excellent flight on SQ this sector was!

Thanks for reading and your comments are much welcomed.
My past and future travels - http://www.ba97.com/ba97/calendar/report.asp?handle=ycp81
 
ba319-131
Posts: 8269
Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2001 1:27 pm

Re: Seoul Searching on the LCC and Premium A330 Flatbeds (FD, XJ and SQ JCL)

Sun Feb 11, 2018 5:40 pm

Nice read and pictures, thanks for sharing.

The Air Asia A330 flight shows what seems to be a pretty decent low cost premium product.

The SQ flight looks great, as it should be.

Thanks again.

BA319131
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